I noticed the Anna’s hummingbird buzzing around the camellia a couple of days ago but the only flowers we have to offer this early are the crocuses that came up this week. The camellia doesn’t usually bloom for a while yet and the poor thing must be tired of eating gnats, spiders and whatever else he can find in the Winter.
Hummingbirds in the Winter? Yes, the Anna’s hummers stay here all year and usually in the Summer I have at least three, two males and a less flashy female, all buzzing around the roses and heliotrope near the front porch. They keep the Rufous hummingbirds away from the front garden and they hassle the bees and dragonflies. They used to like it when I had the little fountain out there but the raccoons broke the fountain so many times that I put the heliotrope in the spot instead. I’ve never put hummingbird feeders out before but apparently they are asking for food now.
I picked this feeder from my local Wild Bird store because it looked easy to fill, hang up and clean. I have some hooks on the porch from wind chimes and a lantern and the birds are used to things there. The proprietor said it might take a while before they noticed it but I hung the feeder up at 11:00 and at 3:00 I opened the front door to take out some recycling and startled a hummingbird. Only one at a time is ever in the feeder but I think I have seen a brighter male and a duller female at different times, it is hard to compare when they are so tiny and I am seeing them only one at a time against the dark green of the camellia leaves. One even came at dusk to drink by the light of the porch light.
The feeding instructions are really clear: 1/4 cup of sugar to 1 cup of water, mix well and replace every 4-5 days. Studies show that 1:4 sugar to water most closely mimics the sucrose they get from flowers and provides the water they need so don’t be tempted to add more sugar or honey or anything else or you can cause them problems.
Here are some links:
Here is an article (it starts on page 7) about a study determining exactly how much nectar actual flowers contain: Newsletter of the Louisiana Ornithological Society